Group H is another interesting group of teams trying to make their marks in Qatar. In Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea, you have teams that have great World Cup pedigree as well as teams looking to reach the heights of their predecessors on the world stage. It is a tricky group but if you get it right, it may give you some of your best World Cup 2022 predictions.
Who are the favorites in Group H?
Portugal will have to be the favorites in this group to win the group and make the deepest run. Os Navegadores had to go through the playoff rounds after finishing second in their group behind Serbia by a slim margin of three points.
Not far behind them is Uruguay. The South American club are ranked 13th in the world, which is only four places below Portugal in ninth. The two time World Cup winners have only failed to qualify for the last 16 once this century and would be trying to replicate the success of their predecessors in 1930 and 1950.
The Black Stars of Ghana have seen a dip in quality over recent years. A bad run of form that led to them not qualifying for the 2018 edition of the showpiece event as well as crashing out of the group stages at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon where they picked up only one point. There have been some pretty low moments for this African giant but after a gritty win over two legs against a Nigerian side that was better on paper, Ghana managed to qualify for the World Cup and will make their fourth appearance at the showpiece event in Qatar this winter.
South Korea are probably the team least favored to go through. In the 10 World Cup appearances they have made, they have only advanced to the last 16 twice. It is a feat they haven’t achieved since their remarkable run in 2002 when they were joint hosts with Japan. They have qualified for every World Cup since Mexico 1986 and will try their best to not just be participants but have a meaningful impact.
Who will qualify from Group H?
Portugal would be the most logical pick to win the group and advance but Uruguay have the quality to push them all the way. The Portuguese boast the best attacking talent of a group that is littered with them and their depth in attacking areas will be key in deciding tough games. This is something the other countries in the group do not have the luxury of.
Uruguay will be the next best pick to advance to the group. Their track record of being in the second round of tournaments speaks for itself. They lost in the quarter-finals to eventual champions and host nation France four years ago and will hope they make it that far again. Their win in 2018 over Portugal will give them added belief going into their matchday 2 contest but Uruguay will know that this Portugal team has grown since the last time they met.
Ghana, as well as South Korea, are definitely in the run in for qualification. They made it to the group stages after all. Both teams are not fancied to qualify but Ghana more than South Korea have the quality to cause a huge upset.
Who are the best players?
The group sees each team have at least a star player in their ranks. There is no shortage of quality options, especially in an attacking sense, with Portugal leading the way.
Five time Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo headlines a star studded Portugal team that also boasts of attacking talent such as Rafael Leao, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota to name a few. There are a lot of flair and goals in that team in the starting lineup and on the bench for Portugal coach Fernando Santos to choose from in his quest to lead his team to their first World Cup triumph ever.
Uruguay has been home to two of the greatest strikers of this generation in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. They have been the ones who have led their national team to success on the world and the continental stages. They have made a combined 265 appearances and have scored 126 goals between them. Both are now 35 and will be heading to what may well be their final tournament together with the goal being to end their illustrious international careers on a high.
The future of the national team seems to be in good hands due to the emergence of the new Liverpool record signing Darwin Nunez. The 23-year-old forward who had a breakout season last year and made a big money move to England will be expected to have a breakout tournament in Qatar and emerge as the next great Uruguayan striker for the next 10 years.
The Black Stars of Ghana have seen an upturn in fortunes in terms of talent as a crop of international players have opted to play for them ahead of the World Cup this winter. Tariq Lamptey, Inaki Williams, Eddie Nketiah and Callum Hudson-Odoi have all decided to represent the Black Stars in what will be a much needed upgrade on what they already have in those areas.
Add these new talents to the likes of Thomas Partey, Mohammed Kudus and Kalmadeen Sulemana and you have a young and exciting team ready to open a lot of eyes in Qatar if they can develop enough team chemistry in time for the tournament.
South Korea can boast of having the best player on the Asian continent in Heung Min Son. The multiple time Asian player of the year winner will look to be influential for the Taegeuk Warriors and lead them out of the group stages for the first time since 2002.
Talents to watch out for
The AC Milan forward will be one of the favorites to win this tournament’s Best Young Player award. His ability on the ball as well as superb physical attributes puts him up there as one of the best young talents in world football today and he will be heavily backed to play a key role for his country.
This could be a huge chance on the world stage for a player whose young career has been plagued with injury. At 21 years, Lamptey has every attribute to make it to the very top as a fullback and the eyes of some of the biggest clubs in the world will firmly be on the Brighton man.
The Manchester United youngster has impressed for the Uruguayan national team despite not breaking into his club side’s first team rotation as of yet. At 20, Pellistri has become a key feature for his country and will be counted on by them to provide width and dynamism from the flanks as well as end product. A strong tournament for him could mean his stock rises at club level too.